Some time ago I engaged in a memorable and friendly email discussion with fisherman James Marsh. Turns out Mr. Marsh is a native of Alabama who spent considerable time near my old stomping grounds on Lake Guntersville, albeit, considering he was there first, I suppose I should call it his stomping grounds. James spent years fishing professionally for bass and saltwater species, becoming a successful television personality and educational video publisher in the process. These days, James and his wife Angie travel around the country fly fishing for trout (tough life, eh?). Much of that time is spent at one of my favorite locations for tossing a fly, Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
During the course of our conversation, Mr. Marsh offered to send me a couple of his DVDs. He graciously allowed me to choose from his sizable library. I picked out one titled Fly Fishing The Great Smoky Mountains National Park: Year-Round Dry-Fly Fishing. I made the mistake of allowing Insane to give the DVD a watching first. I began to doubt I’d ever get it back. Fortunately I coaxed him into giving it back and gave it a go today. I should have posted this review weeks ago.
First off let me say that I typically do not enjoy fly fishing videos. I like the scenery, but that’s about it. I didn’t go into this DVD expecting much. Having said that, I think Mr. Marsh has produced an excellent video that would be most exceedingly useful for a beginning fly fisher looking to sample the waters of the Smokies. In fact, I think my brother and I would have caught on to the game much more quickly if we’d had the privilege of watching a video such as this one.
James and Angie are definitely not “snobby” fly fishers. They’re both distinctly Southern, and they’re a joy to watch. Don’t expect long, graceful casts to daintily rising browns in this video. The Marshes demonstrate the practical aspects of dry fly fishing the Smokies, which often involves 10 ft casts and lots of stealth. The absence of advertisements and product pitches is a blessing. The purpose of this DVD is to teach, not tell you about the latest product line up. The DVD (actually a 2-DVD set) is laid out like a moving guide book on the Smokies. James provides a nice introduction to the Smokies as well as providing tidbits of information throughout the video as the narrator. He covers species of fish, tactics, gear, flies, etc. All seasons of fishing in the Smokies are covered. The DVD outlines basic information on many of the major and not-so-major streams. Certainly the most beneficial aspects are the tips on how to approach the stream. Stealth, drab clothing (even camo), getting close, staying out of the water, these are all things the Marshes demonstrate. Throughout the DVDs James expresses a respect for the resource which I appreciate. I especially enjoyed the Marshes’ genuine love of the brook trout. In all there is around four and a half hours of footage. There are well-defined chapters which make it easy to skip around to topics which interest you.
It seems like Angie spends more time in front of the camera than James, and I suspect this was a strategic decision on James’ part. If Jacqulyn and I ever publish our own series of fly fishing videos, she’s definitely going to be the subject of the camera’s attention. Aside from the obvious aesthetic advantages of such a set up, I think showing our fine women anglers in action is beneficial to the sport as a whole. It’s certainly not just a guy’s game.
Will experienced Smokies fly fishers learn much from the DVD? Probably not. Most folks experienced at fishing the Smokies will already know much of what is presented in the video. However, I believe someone looking to get into the sport by fishing in our Southern Appalachians would find the DVD invaluable. I see people asking for help getting started all the time on forums like the one hosted by Little River Outfitters. I believe this video would answer almost all their questions. One thing I’ve noticed is that beginners tend to over-complicate the sport at first. I know my brother and I did. We thought you had to shadow cast like Brad Pitt to catch a trout. When you see James or Angie “cane-poling” brookies out of pocket water, the light comes on. All this isn’t to say that experienced anglers won’t enjoy the DVD. I enjoyed recognizing familiar locations, and I even learned a thing or two. Plus, watching a friendly couple fly fishing a mountain stream isn’t a bad way to while away the time when you can’t get on the water yourself.
If you’d like to purchase this or any of the Marshes’ DVDs, check out their website: FlyFishingDVD.com.
Also check out the Marshes’ other excellent fly fishing sites: Fly Fishing the Smoky Mountains and Fly Fishing Yellowstone National Park. They update their sites often, so check back just as often. I recommend taking a look at the hatch information on their Smokies site. Take care,